| Marmion and Garvey Family Links
An Update May 01, 2008
In the article ‘Notes on Mourne Marmions and Related Families’ posted on this website in 2006 we discussed the evidence for a link between the family of Patt Marmon (sic) of Morne (sic) – Arthur Marmion’s grandfather – and the Garvey family of Aghnagon.
The evidence for such a connection, and a close connection at that, revolved around the will of Bishop Anthony Garvey of Dromore who died in 1766 and subsequent business dealings between the Garvey family of Rouen and Patt’s son, James Marmion of Lurganconry, and later Ballyardle. This James was the father of Arthur who married Catherine Murphy of Newry and from whom numerous Marmions in the US now descend.
To recap, Bishop Anthony in his will left the largest bequest, that of £50, to “the two boys of Patt and Mary Marmon of Morne”. He further tasked Patt Marmon to collect the rents, presumably those of Aughnagon, and to give the tenants receipts in the name of Christy Garvey. The bishop did not state where Christy lived but obviously this man was not in a position to collect the rents himself.
Bishop Anthony Garvey
Bishop of Dromore
1747 - 1766
the original belongs to
Monsieur Pierre Garvey
We now know, thanks largely to the investigations of Philippe de Rostolan of Paris - a descendant of the Garvey family - that Christy and other members of the Garvey family were resident in Rouen and Le Havre, and had been from approximately the late 1720s, (see GeneaNet – Genealogical family tree of museetrochu). Phillipe’s sources for the history of 18th century Garvey families are drawn largely from the ‘Genealogical Office – National Library of Ireland’ in Dublin, and from the ‘Archives Dèpartementales de la Seine-Maritime’ in Rouen.
Unfortunately none of these sources give complete listings of all family members. Some, who are listed in Dublin are unknown in Rouen and vice-versa and others, for instance the bishop’s brother John is listed in neither. Of the bishop’s other brothers and sisters we know that, Christy, Anne and Elizabeth settled in Rouen and Le Havre at various dates. According to the French sources it is believed that Patrick, the eldest brother, also settled in Le Havre and died there about 1759; yet in 1756, he appears to have been in Ireland. In that year he personally signed and made over two leases, one – the mountain quarter of Aghnagon - to his brother John and the other – the demesne farm – to Bishop Anthony.
(181-285-120722 + 181-285-120723).
Interestingly the conveyance to the bishop stipulated the rent as “six pounds ster as also meat drink washing and bedding suitable to the said Patricks station during his life or ten pounds ster yearly in lieu thereof at the election of the said Patrick Garvey over and above Taxes Quit and Crown rent”. The inclusion of this clause would indicate that Patrick intended to stay in Ireland, perhaps he later changed his mind. In a note on the back of the lease Patrick waived his claim to the £10.
The payment of Quit-rent would suggest that Aghnagon had been forfeited land which was distributed under the Restoration Land Settlement of 1662 and 1665. This rent amounted to two pence per acre in Ulster. Crown rent, known as the chief rent was due on land granted by the crown.
James who was next to Patrick married a Mary Murphy and remained at home in Aughnagon although we know that some of his children went to France. Of these Robert (1734-1776) and Anthony (1739-1804) were to become well known in Normandy business circles.
The family in France engaged in three cornered shipping between Normandy, the British Isles and the West Indies. By 1730 Christy had opened an office in Rouen and lived at No 24 Rue du Petit Enfer. It was at this address, close to the Irish quarter in the parish of St. Eloi, that various brothers, nephews and nieces were to arrive over the next forty years. The family was to prosper, expanding its business interests into finance and industry.
In 1770, after an extensive investigation, the results of which are to be found in the Archives Départementales de la Seine-Maritime, the nobility of the Garvey family was officially recognised and registered by the Parliament of Normandy. The importance of this recognition should not be underestimated, it opened doors that had previously been closed and allowed the family to advance economically and socially.
Bishop Anthony died in Aghnagon in 1766. He had been predeceased by his two older brothers Patrick (c. 1759) and James (1746). His brother John and his sisters Anne and Betty were still alive. Anne had married an O’Hagan from nearby Kilcoo. Her grandson Dr. Patrick McMullan was consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor in the old chapel of Newry on St. Mathias’s day 21st September 1793. The Garvey family vault is only a short distance from the chapel. Anne and Betty were later to travel to France and live with their bachelor brother Christy on a large farm which he had purchased, together with the manor of Frettemeule, twenty miles to the north of Rouen.
Patrick was the first born son of Dudley Garvey and Bridget McDermott; he married Mary Savage of Ballyvalley, Co. Down in 1716, (89-114-62365). In the marriage settlement it was stated that Dudley owned the fee-simple of the townland of Aughnagon. In other words he owned it outright and Patrick was recognised as his son and heir with rights of succession to pass to any issue “begotten on the body of said Mary [Savage] forever”. The property appears to have been an entailed estate (i.e., one passing down the male line, undivided).
While Patrick had daughters he had no male issue or perhaps more correctly male issue who survived him to inherit the property and it passed to the next living brother, Christy, James having predeceased Patrick. Patrick’s other brother, John, was still alive but may have been the youngest. Bishop Anthony and John were not on the best of terms and as explained above the bishop in his will by passed John and asked Patt Marmon of Morne to collect the rents and issue receipts in the name of Christy.
The evidence would suggest that Patt’s wife Mary was a neice of the bishop. With two young children it is unlikely that she was a sister. She may have been a daughter of either Patrick or James. This relationship would explain why the bishop left such a large legacy to the two children and placed such confidence in her husband. Families of this social standing were inclined to keep important business within the family circle. Genealogical records of this period were more interested in recording male than female issue. We would not know of Anne Garvey’s marriage to O’Hagan had O’Laverty not recorded it in his History of the Diocese of Down and Connor.
As we have seen from the previous article ‘Notes on Mourne Marmions --’ the Garvey/Marmion relationship continued into the early 1800s when James Edmund Aloysius Garvey gave to James Marmion - son of Patt – power of attorney to raise a mortgage on the lands of Aughnagon (544-403-364472). While we believe the two men to have been first cousins it is strange that the friendship and business relationship would still be active and strong after almost forty years; perhaps something other than family ties was sustaining it.
If as was suspected the Marmion family was involved in smuggling and as we know the Garveys were engaged in shipping the possible linkage is obvious. While government took a dim view of smuggling and was active in its suppression, socially it was quite acceptable, and the great and the good if not directly involved had no qualms about partaking of the spoils. A George Huson (sic) of Mourne had the temerity to approach no less a person than Lord Hillsborough, later Lord Downshire, and seek his backing in a smuggling venture – the good Lord refused, (PRONI D/607/B/388).
Philippe de Rostolan’s research has revealed that Arthur Marmion’s father-in-law, Laurence Murphy accompanied by Mark Devlin, travelled to Rouen in 1803 and purchased the townland of Aghnagon from the Garvey family. Devlin had married Murphy’s sister, Catherine. The lull in the French war following the treaty of Amiens allowed them to travel in safety.
Robert Garvey of Rouen whose mother was a Murphy of County Louth had leased in 1768 part of Aghnagon to an Edward Murphy, innkeeper of Newry. This Murphy may have been related to Robert’s mother and possibly the father of Laurence. As we know Laurence was the father of Catherine who married Arthur Marmion raising the possibility that both were distantly related. This lease was executed by Anthony Garvey of Aghnagon signing the name and affixing the seal of Robert by power of attorney. If this was Robert’s brother Anthony (born 1739, died unmarried 1804) he may have been on a visit home from France.
Losses incurred during the French revolution may have necessitated the mortgaging and eventual sale of Aghnagon although to this day Garveys still farm in the townland. According to an oral tradition, now almost forgotten, this family was known as the ‘Parra Mór’ Garveys (Gerard Quin of Aghnagon) indicating that they were descendants of a man known as ‘big Patrick’.
On the eve of the revolution the Garvey family was among the twenty five most important families in Rouen with a fortune estimated by the revolutionary council of that city at 120,0000 French pounds. At a later date a secret investigation ordered by Napoleon listed the Garvey girls as among the most marriageable in Normandy - ‘Par ordre de l’Empereur, Enquête sur les jeunes filles à marier dans la Seine Inférieure (1810-1811) – Le Verdier, 1921’ (de Rostolan).
Anthony Garvey (mentioned above), a son of James, was born in Aghnagon in 1739. He succeeded his uncle Christy in the family business in Rouen and had to flee France during the revolution when he was accused of having emigrated although it seems he was abroad on family business. Following the seizure of his property by the French Republic; he moved to England and died at Bath in 1804. A plaque in his memory is to be found in Bath Abbey.
The Garvey/MacDermott connection
A brief outline of this connection will throw some light on the world of the Garveys and Marmions. Dudley Garvey of Aughnagon married Bridget MacDermott. A branch of this famous Connaught family moved east sometime in the sixteenth century and settled at Kilcurly, about six miles west of the town of Dundalk in Co. Louth. The main stem of the family known as the MacDermott of Moylurg was, prior to the Cromwellian and Williamite confiscations, possessed of vast tracts of lands in counties Roscommon, Sligo and parts of Mayo
Bridget was the daughter of Clement MacDermott and Joan, daughter of Christopher Blyke of Co. Louth. Sometime in the late seventeenth century the family left Kilcurly and moved to Thomastown, a short distance from Dundalk, where they built a family mansion. According to the oral tradition a Cromwellian family by the name of Smith invoked the penal laws and forced the family to quit Kilcurly. Whatever about the truth of this, the family soon settled into Thomastown House and was noted for entertaining on the grand scale.
Four of Bridget’s brothers had enlisted in the French service. Robert, Brian and John joined the army while Edmund (Eamon) chose to serve in the navy. It is important to bear in mind that the MacDermotts, Garveys and Marmions, in these years, would all have been bilingual, speaking Gaelic and English, others no doubt were fluent in French or Spanish. Some if not all of the male children in these families were possibly educated in Latin and Greek. Latin was essential for all students intended for the priesthood and a useful means of communication within the officer class in continental armies.
Dudley MacDermott’s great grandson Matthew Bellew, one time colonel in the Russian service and brother of the bishop of Killala spoke French, Italian, German and several Slavonic languages. When the French landed at Killala General Humbert appointed him commander of the insurgent forces, a position which was later to cost him his life. (The Last Invasion of Ireland – Hayes).
An article written by Father Larry Murray, entitled ‘Poets and Poetry of Kilkerley’ and published in The County Louth Archaeological Journal (vol. 1V, No. 1, 1916) outlines, various tributes in verse paid to the MacDermott family by the renowned Gaelic poet Seamus Dall MacCuarta. The article also describes a family gathering at Thomastown House attended by twenty four MacDermott men, all in foreign service, and includes a list of twelve McDermotts in Spanish and French service compiled by the genealogist, Harte.
According to Father Murrray the music on this occasion was supplied by the family harper. This could have been none other than the famous blind harper, Turlough O’Carolan, long patronised by all branches of the MacDermott family; he died in 1738. A musical genius he travelled the length and breadth of Ireland and was a much welcomed guest in the ‘big houses’.
Among his collected tunes are two dedicated to Mrs Garvey. These are believed to be dedicated to a Mrs Garvey of the Mayo branch of the family. Donal O’Sullivan in his book ‘Carolan – The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper’ speaks of the lack of precise detail as to the identity of this Mrs Garvey. She may well be the Mrs Garvey from near Westport but equally I suspect there is a good case to be made for Mrs Dudley Garvey who we know was a MacDermott and who no doubt together with her husband would have travelled the short distance from Aghnagon to attend the ball in Thomastown House. Would O’Carolan have composed and dedicated an air to her? In so doing he was paying a tribute to two of his patrons, the Garveys and the MacDermotts! One perhaps is dedicated to Mrs Garvey of Westport and the other to Mrs Garvey of Aghnagon.
We know that MacDermotts of Thomastown also settled at Rouen but whether they preceded the Garveys we cannot tell. No doubt they assisted one another to become established in business as was the practice in the Irish colony in the parish of St. Eloi.
Robert Garvey, the son of Dudley and Bridget, married in 1764 Mary Plowden, daughter of William Plowden and the Right Honourable Francis Dormer. This noted Catholic and Jacobite family fled England and followed King James into exile after his defeat at the battle of the Boyne. Mary was one of fifteen children and sister of the noted historian Frances Plowden, author of ‘An Historical Review of the State of Ireland’ published in three volumes in 1801. He conducted much of his research in Ireland.
This work deals mainly with the eighteenth century and the period leading up to the rebellion and the act of Union. It is critical of government, and a Mr Hart, connected with the administration, instituted libel proceedings against the author. A verdict was returned for the plaintiff and he was awarded £5000. Plowden, unable to pay, fled to Paris where he attained a position in the Scots College. Those who spoke critically of government at this particularly sensitive time did so at their peril.
Mary and Robert had eight children one of whom, Anna Barbara, in 1790 married Major Anthony James MacDermott, a distant cousin and officer in the Household Cavalry at Vienna. This was also the year James Marmion married Jane Magenis. If the Garveys and Marmions were related as the evidence would suggest James and Anna Barbara were first cousins. Anna Barbara’s sister Mary married Peter Taafe, an officer in Dillon’s Regiment in the Irish Brigade. Another sister Marie Elizabeth Brigitte married the Vicompte Ruinart of Rheims whose family was prominent in the wine trade.
In the late eighteenth century Major Anthony and Anna Barbara returned to Ireland and resided on the outskirts of Dublin. He was suspected by the authorities at Dublin Castle of involvement with the United Irishmen. A MacDermott of Louth had set up as a wine merchant in Abbey Street. This house was suspected of being a rendezvous for French agents.
The MacDermot family history (MacDermot of Moylurg by Dermot MacDermot) quotes the following letter to be found in the Rebellion Papers, dated 8 Sept 1796, and written to the Under-Secretary Cooke as follows,
“…..It may be useful that you should know that there is a person in Dublin who has come direct from Paris he professes to be a factor of Mon. Ruginard Wine Merchants in Rheims but has probably other business – he may be found by inquiring for Champagne thro MacDermott’s house in Abbey Street. MacDermott and Ruginard are brothers in law, married to Garvey’s daughters – I can get you further information of this kind – keep the…..secret”.
Dublin castle appears to have gathering intelligence on the Garvey family of Rouen. We know that emissaries of the United Irishmen met in and passed through this city. It would be surprising if some did not have contact with the family.
Another letter to the castle, dated 11 July 1798, stated, “My Lord … there is a Major MacDermott of the Irish Brigade whom it is absolutely necessary should be immediately seized. He was to have been a leader in the Attack on the Capital and is very famous for his military skill and knowledge of tacticks (sic) …….. Mr MacDermott I beg leave to observe is a most dangerous man ……”. It was rumoured that MacDermott once escaped arrest because his beautiful wife, Anna Barbara, who was a favourite at the Castle was tipped off by someone in authority.
Major Anthony and his wife eventually moved to Galway, a man with a reputation and the whiff of cordite about him, he fought several duels and in 1819 raised a regiment in Galway to assist Simon Boliver in his struggle to free Equador and Peru from Spain. Command of the regiment was given to a Fitzsimmons, a distant relation of the Major.
In 1801 Ireland entered a new era. Members of the Irish Parliament which was controlled by the Protestant ascendancy were bribed, bullied and cajoled in the most blatant manner to vote for the Act of Union and unite the parliaments of Britain and Ireland. Ireland was to lose the small degree of independence it enjoyed.
Henceforth all legislative decisions would be taken at Westminster. To placate the Catholic population, and buy off the Church, which was not particularly difficult, Catholic emancipation was promised but it did not happen, not for another thirty years.
While the Catholic Irish had no influence at home and declined economically and socially their countrymen were to be found occupying positions of power and influence in almost every court, army, university and college in Europe. Viewed by the British as incapable of exercising power at home, abroad their integrity, abilities and intelligence were recognised and rewarded.
It is not known how the townland of Aghnagon came into the possession of the Garveys. In 1608 it was included in a grant of ten townlands made to Hugh McConn McGlassney Magennis. By 1641 these townlands had passed from Magenis to Edward Trevor, a Welsh man, connected to the Bagenals, who settled in Newry in the early 1600s.
The mention of Quit Rent in the lease to Bishop Anthony above might suggest that Aghnagon was forfeited land whose ownership was decided under the Restoration Land Settlement of the 1660s. If it was granted to the Garvey family at this time, confirmation has yet to be found.
We do know that in 1716 it belonged to Dudley Garvey and that it passed to his eldest son, Patrick, when he married in September of that year (89-114-62365). In return Patrick allowed his father the use of one third of the land, rent free, for the remainder of his life. While the marriage settlement was drawn up in August 1716, for some reason which we can only guess at, it was not registered until December 1737. Aghnagon remained in Garvey hands until 1803 when it was sold as described above.
The penal laws of Queen Anne were designed to make it difficult for Catholics to retain their lands. The law provided for any Protestant who “discovered” a Catholic holding land in contravention of the law to file a bill of discovery in the court of chancery; if successful the land in question passed to the discoverer.
So potentially lucrative was the discovery clause in the penal legislation that a semi-professional body of discoverers grew up. They frequented the Registry of Deeds office, scrutinising memorials, especially deeds of trusts, as they were lodged. Approximately one thousand bills of discovery were successful in the Courts of Chancery and Exchequer. These increased in number after 1750 and tailed off with the introduction of the Catholic Relief Acts.
As stated above deeds of trust were of particular interest to discoverers. Some of which, upon investigation, were found to be something other than what they purported to be. Catholic land holders had found a way of circumventing the land laws! Property could be concealed within trusts established by sympathetic Protestant friends or relations. These collusive trusts were not without their attendant risks, not only were they liable to discovery but the trustee might renege on his bond and claim the property as his own.
This is an area of research which still awaits in-depth investigation.
Several historians have remarked on the fact that not only did the Garvey family remain loyal to their faith but they succeeded in holding on to their land; O’Laverty mentioned it in his History of the Diocese of Down and Connor, Reeves remarked on it in his book ‘Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down, Connor and Dromore’ and O’Brien in his Irish Dictionary (1832). Catholics in the north of Ireland, for a variety of historical reasons were deeply impoverished, much more so than their southern counterparts and those who succeeded in retaining possession of their lands did so by conforming to Protestantism. The Garvey family appear to have been unique in this respect; the question is “How did they manage it?”
We know from the marriage settlement of Patrick Garvey and Mary Savage (1716) that the Garvey family held the fee simple of Aghnagon. Thomas P. O’Neill in an article entitled ‘Discoverers and Discoveries’ published in Irish Family History (Vol.V11 1991) explains how the discovery system under the acts of Queen Anne applied to leasehold property only and not to land held in fee.
While this afforded a degree of protection to the family, the gavelkind clause, contained in the same legislation, required land held by a Catholic landholder to be divided equally between his sons, on his death. O’Neill, however, goes on to tell us that this clause only became open to discovery in 1746 and then only in a limited way although any shares due to sons in the French or Spanish service could also now be discovered. For whatever reason, only a small number of cases appear to have been brought under the amended legislation. The fact that the Irish played little or no part in the 1745 rebellion in Scotland went some way to reassure the authorities as to their loyalty.
We do not know when Dudley Garvey died. It may have occurred around 1737, prompting Patrick to lodge his marriage settlement. By this date most of his brothers had gone to live in France. Bishop Anthony and John remained in Aghnagon. In 1756 Patrick issued leases to both men who were probably by now in their fifties and already in possession of the land.
While enforcement of the land laws waxed and waned a Catholic family in the position of the Garveys could never feel fully secure and may have felt the need for additional protection to safeguard their holding. In a trust established in 1742 (106-448-74642) between Thomas Morres Jones of Moneyglass, Co. Antrim and Anne Morres Jones, his mother, of the first part and Thomas Clarke of Ardress, Co. Armagh, together with Roger Hall of Millhall, Co. Down of the other part, the Jones family conveyed to Clarke and Hall approximately thirty townlands within Cos. Down and Armagh to hold “upon the trusts in the said deed”.
Since no further information as to the nature of the trusts is given in the memorial we are unclear as to their purpose. However, the vital and surprising information, from our point of view, is to find Aghnagon listed among the townlands belonging to a wealthy Protestant family. Have we stumbled across a collusive trust?
A continuation of the search reveals a deed of assignment registered in 1800 (526-564-343915) whereby a mortgage agreed in 1783 between Thomas Morres Jones of Moneyglass and Gorges Edmond Howard was, following the death of Howard, assigned to a Louisa Gorges.
In the mortgage of 1783 Jones leased approximately thirty townlands for the term of five hundred years, at the rent of one peppercorn, subject to the redemption or payment of the principal sum of two thousand pounds together with the interest. While the number and names of the townlands conveyed, approximated those contained in the trust of 1742, the two lists varied slightly, however, once again the townland of Aghnagon was included.
Was this a further collusive deed? Was the Jones family, together with that of Clarke and Hall, and later Gorges Edmund Howard protecting the Garvey interest in Aghnagon by listing the townland among their possessions and if so what was the relationship between them?
A search of the Registry of Deeds to establish whether the Garvey family had ever conveyed, by any manner or means, the townland of Aghnagon to the family of Jones produced a deed poll of 1717 (18-423-9437) whereby Roth Jones of Dublin did on receipt of £111 “fully and absolutely --- discharge a Deed of Rent Charge” dated 1711 and made between Dudley and Patrick Garvey and Jones whereby the Garveys in return for £100 agreed to pay Jones an annuity or yearly rent charge of £8 out of the lands of Aghnagon.
While the memorial states that Jones had lost the original deed it goes on to make clear that the Garveys were released from the charge and the deed was duly witnessed and registered. This is the only evidence found to date of financial dealings between Roth Jones and Dudly and/or Patrick.
Roth Jones came to the fore again in 1725 when he leased (52-10-33267) to John Garvey, Gent, of Legananny in the barony of Upper Iveagh, most of this townland including the quarter of Slievangarran (sic) for seventy six years at an annual rent of £40. The lease was witnessed among others by Roth Morres of Dublin and John Morres of Dromore, Co. Down. The use of the term ‘Gent’ to describe Garvey would suggest that he was the brother of Patrick. If so, as a Catholic, he was not entitled to a lease over thirty one years. He may have conformed, perhaps temporarily, to the Protestant church. This might explain the friction between him and his brother the bishop.
By 1759 Garvey has either lost or given up his lease. An advertisement placed in The Belfast Newsletter on the 20th April of that year, described the townland as “out of lease”. The land by then was in the hands of Lord Annesley whose agent was advertising it for Summer grazing – horses seven shillings, black cattle six, and sheep eight – herds were also provided. The grazing did not come cheap!
Roth Jones was the great uncle of Thomas Morres Jones and the grandson of a Welshman who arrived in Ireland in the 1660s. In an article entitled ‘Law in Dundalk 1719’ (ClAHJ Vol X No 3 1943) he is described as the Recorder of Dundalk. He also gave his name to the village of Jonesborough in south Armagh. The same article mentions a Stephen Marmion who is described as the Deputy Bailiff of Dundalk.
Jones’ will made in 1725 (46-359-28915) would indicate that he was an exceptionally wealthy man. Unfortunately he does not list all the properties he possessed. These are covered under the term “ -- all and every the houses lands tenements in the County of Down of Armagh of Louth or elsewhere in the Kingdom of Ireland that he should Dye seized of --” So we cannot tell if he laid claim to Aghnagon.
He bequeathed the bulk of his property to his nephew William Morres, son of his sister Lettice by Thomas Morres of Mountjoy, Co. Tyrone, on condition that he take the name Jones on inheriting. This, William was happy to do and he in turn left the property to his son Thomas Morres Jones of Moneyglass, Co. Antrim. This was the Thomas who included the townland of Aghnagon in the trust established in 1742. Renowned for his generosity he is better known in Irish history as ‘Bumper Squire Jones’, so called after an air in his honour composed by the harpist Turlough O’Carolan, mentioned above.
However, since he died in 1769, it would appear to have been his son Thomas who included Aghnagon in the mortgage of 1783. Gorges Edmond Howard, (1715-1786), the other party to this mortgage was born in Coleraine, Co. Antrim, a short distance to the north of Moneyglass, the son of Francis Howard, a Captain of Dragoons. A jurist of some repute he was one of the earliest Protestant campaigners for a relaxation of the penal laws as they applied to Catholics.
He published in 1775, a very interesting and by now a very scarce book entitled ‘Special Cases on the Laws against the further growth of Popery in Ireland’. It will come as no surprise that he was an authority on all forms of collusion and land concealment involving trusts, deeds and discoverers and makes frequent reference to them all in the text.
In the case of Aghnagon the two deeds in question are composed in a very convoluted manner. Not only do they list approximately thirty townlands but they also include all spelling variations together with all variants of the townland name. Some of these bear little resemblance to the name in common use. To add to the confusion sentences are lengthy, with little punctuation. The comma in particular, is seldom used.
In both documents Aghnagon is referred to as ‘Aghnagon otherwise Levally’. This would appear to be intended to mislead. There is no evidence that Aghnagon was ever known as Levally (see Place-Names of Northern Ireland – Vol. One – Co. Down, Eds. Toner and Ó Mainnìn). Immediately after Levally comes the well known townland of Levallyreagh followed by two spelling variations of the same. Drawn up in this manner it would appear relatively easy to conceal one or more townlands which did not belong to you; which must beg the question, “if these were intended to conceal Aghnagon, is this the only townland whose true ownership is concealed”?
By 1800 when the deed of assignment, containing the mortgage, was assigned to Louisa Gorges the Garvey family was at considerable risk of losing their property. No doubt she was aware of the deception. The trustees of Gorges Edmond Howard’s will, who were fast dying off, would have informed her if she was not already aware. If anything were to happen to Louisa, the Garvey family would have had difficulty asserting their title to Aghnagon.
The time had come to take action. The threat from the penal laws had long receded, Catholic Relief Acts had seen to that. The Garveys moved to reassert their title to Aghnagon. The first step was to give James Marmion of Mourne power of attorney to raise a mortgage (£455.11.8) on the lands from the Glenny family of Newry. This old Newry family, long established as merchants, land owners and legal figures, was highly respected and sympathetic to the Catholic position. Their willingness to agree a mortgage with the Garveys on the land of Aghnagon would go a long way to reassure a potential buyer that the Garvey family did indeed own the property.
Allan MacDonnel, grandson of James Marmion, in a letter from Texas in 1898 to a Newry newspaper remarked on his grandfather’s friendship with the Glennys and claimed that this family had concealed hundreds of acres for the Marmion family during the penal era. No proof of this has been found, yet we would be foolish to rule it out. He also mentioned his grandfather’s friendship with the Hall family, one of the parties to the 1742 trust mentioned above. We know this family intermarried with that of Savage, as did the Garveys, James Marmion’s mother-in-law had also been a Savage. Other than this, we cannot say how close the relationship was.
The mortgage was drawn up, signed, sealed and registered and having re-established proof of ownership the Garveys moved to the next stage, the sale of their property. This was transacted not in Ireland but in France. The purchasers, Murphy and Devlin, chose to travel to Rouen and negotiate with the family. Power of attorney could again have been given to James Marmion to agree the purchase however the buyers chose to deal directly with the owners.
The sale was completed in 1803 but could not be registered in Ireland as it was completed outside the jurisdiction. Devlin and Murphy would have required some proof of ownership to enable them to lease or sell the property. What form this took we do not know. This ended the French family’s connection with the townland but certain questions remain. How the Garveys came into possession of the land is still something of a mystery. The exact relationship between the family and the other parties named in the trusts, has still to be clarified.
However we know enough to say that among the Catholic landed families of Counties Down and Antrim the Garvey family was indeed unique. Unlike the families of O’Neill, Magennis and Savage, many of whom renounced their Catholic faith to hold onto the little land that they were left with, after the devastating confiscations of the seventeenth century, the Garvey family managed to stay loyal to their Church and retain their land; the latter apparently with the connivance of Thomas Morres Jones, Thomas Clarke, Roger Hall and Gorges Edmond Howard.
During the same period they successfully entered business in France, with one family member after another moving to Le Havre and Rouen as the business prospered, and following the recognition of the noble lineage of the family, by the Parliament of Normandy, their children were free to intermarry with the French aristocracy.
At home many of those who conformed, in a vain attempt to keep up appearances and live in the style they once enjoyed, so encumbered their small estates with debt that they gradually lost them. Mortgages which they could not afford to repay, marriageable daughters who required ‘respectable’ endowments, dowager relations and elderly aunts who were to be maintained according to their station, extravagant marriage settlements, gaming debts, wine bills, leaky roofs all brought many a great house to its knees.
Sons joined the army or navy, the Church of Ireland or the East India Company and moved abroad never to return. Daughters married “below their station” and once noble families gradually disintegrated. Who is to say that the Garvey family did not make the right choice?
McDermot and Garvey links to the family of Arthur Marmion of Mourne
I have used the genealogical tables given in the MacDermot family history ‘The MacDermot of Moylurg’ by Dermot MacDermot, to show the Garvey, McDermot lineage.
This stems from Bridget MacDermot, daughter of Clement, who married Dudley Garvey of Aghnagon and was the mother of Mary Garvey who we believe married Patt Marmon of Mourne. The arguments supporting this connection are outlined above.
I have used the information contained in three tables taken from the MacDermot book, to construct the fourth page showing the Marmion linkage. If there are any mistakes on this page they are mine alone.
I wish to thank the present head of the family, ‘Rory The MacDermot’ for allowing me to use his grandfather’s work. This is a fascinating book, obviously a labour of love. Not only does it deal with the various branches of the family but contains much useful information on Gaelic life and how it was structured.
See the clan website – www.macdermot.com